I am writing this article to honor Saint Mary Magdalene on her feast day today, the 22nd of July 2021.
I must admit that I am despondent over the fact that people seem to exalt Saint Magdalene more than our Blessed Mother, Mary. Truthfully, I feel agitated when people make it appear that Jesus loves Mary Magdalene more than He loves His own Mother, Mary.
On this note, I lift up to Saint Mary Magdalene an apologetic heart and loving thoughts. With the writing of this article I intend to foster a loving and continuing friendly relationship towards this Saint, whom both Mary and Jesus love with all their heart.
Saints in heaven are well able to help us, the militant saints, here on earth. And Saint Mary Magdalene is one who can greatly help us especially if we struggle with our sinfulness.
Who is Mary Magdalene
By way of introduction, I’d like to say that Mary Magdalene was the fourth woman disciple of Jesus with the name of Mary.
I said this because Mary Magdalene was the last of the four primary women disciples who came into the group with the name of Mary. The three other Maries were, of course, Mary the mother of Jesus; Mary Clopas, the mother of Apostles James and Judas Thaddeus; and Mary Salome, the mother of Apostles James and John.
The above Maries were among the most prominent women disciples during the time of Jesus ministry on earth. The others were Johanna of Chuza, Susanna and Martha. Jesus calls them the chosen women disciples who would be the future founders of more women disciples.
Although Mary Magdalene was the last-comer among the prominent women disciples her transformation to holiness and great faith to Jesus as God and Savior was absolute that she became an integral part of Christianity not only in the past but also in the present time.
The Family of Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene is the sister of Lazarus, the man whom Jesus raised from the dead, and Martha of Bethany. Their Father Theophilus, a Syrian proselyte (convert), was a powerful man who had connections to Rome. Magdalene’s brother, Lazarus, is likewise powerful by birth. It is said that he is feared because he stands high in the favor of the Romans. He is a man of God, and very wealthy. A large part of the town in Bethany belongs to him as well as much land in Palestine.
In short, Mary Magdalene belongs to a very wealthy family who enjoys a high standing not only among the locals but most of all among the Romans.
Except for one thing.
Mary of Magdala
Mary owned and lived in her own mansion in Magdala. That’s how she came to be called the Magdalene.
Magdala was known to be a place of moral decay. Accordingly, the Romans destroyed this city because of its moral depravity.
The name Magdalene denotes “curling a woman’s hair,” which means she was an adulteress (or a prostitute).
It is said that if not because of the family’s connection to Rome, the family would be treated badly like more than a leper because of her licentiousness. It is said that Magdalene was a disgrace to her family and to Palestine.
The Conversion of Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene broke the hearts of her brother Lazarus and sister Martha.
I suspect that Mary Magdalene’s self-indulgence has caused his brother Lazarus’ declining health.
Martha used to shed tears in front of Jesus asking Him to mend her sister’s ways.
But Mary Magdalene’s conversion came.
She had listened to Jesus preached the Father’s love and forgiveness.
The fact that she can be forgiven struck Mary Magdalene leading to the conversion of her heart.
Surely, only God knows, how much in quandary she had been during those times of conversion. Surely, the seven demons who had enslaved her body and soul wouldn’t give her up.
In her confusion, she set out for Nazareth to find Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
In Capernaum: Mary Magdalene Became One of the Women Disciples
The Blessed Mother Mary together with the converted Mary Magdalene walked to Capernaum where Jesus and His disciples had stayed. Martha, Magdalene’s sister was there as well, and other women disciples.
The Blessed Mother paved the way for Mary Magdalene’s becoming one of the chosen women disciples, whom Christ said would be the future founders of more women disciples.
Mary Magdalene During the Great Persecution of the Early Church
Stories said that during the heights of the Jewish persecution of the Early Church the Jews put Mary Magdalene along with her brother Lazarus, sister Martha, Maximin (one of the 72 disciples), and other men and women disciples on a boat that has no sail or rudder and were set adrift on the sea.
The Jewish leaders did this because they were afraid to kill these prominent people for fear of retaliation since Lazarus had a close connection to Rome.
Miraculously, they landed in southern France, and Mary Magdalene spent the remaining years of her life living in solitude in a cave in the Mountains of La Sainte Baume.
According to legend, in the last thirty years of her life Saint Mary Magdalene thrive on food and drink provided to her by angels who come to her seven times a day. On her death, the angels took her body to a place near the church of Saint Maximin who buried her.
Saint Magdalene Grotto
A grotto and a medieval basilica stand today at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume, a little town in the southeastern region of France, which attracts thousands of pilgrims each year. People believe that the cave, known as La Baume of Mary Magdalene, holds the bones of Mary Magdalene.
Accordingly, when Charles II (1254-1309), King of Naples and Count of Provence, heard the legend about the burial place of Saint Mary Magdelene in Saint-Maximin he ordered an excavation to locate her relics, which resulted in the discovery of Mary’s sarcophagus in December of 1279. They found her body mostly intact, except for the missing mandible (jaw bone) and lower leg bones.
A wooden tablet was found inside Mary Magdalene’s tomb with the inscription:
“Here lies the body of Mary Magdalene.”
In April 6, 1295 the mandible, which was found at St. John Lateran in Rome, was reunited with the rest of Mary Magdalene’s body.
Charles II was the founder of the Gothic basilica Ste. Marie-Madeleine and the priory at Sainte Baume. Boniface VIII blessed the basilica and placed it under the order of the Dominican monks.
Saint Mary Magdalene is the patroness of converts, repentant sinners, sexual temptations, pharmacists, tanners, women, and several other causes.